This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

That evil "Card Services" call

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Outstate, Photos Updated: November 30, 2012 - 12:13 PM

The phone just rang, and I now I listening to a recorded pitch for a free home security system. Totally free. No cost! There’s no catch - it’s from the government!

At least that’s what the pitch wants you to believe. The FBI is so concerned about crime, and also about people falling down - they have an entire department devoted to people falling down - that they’re giving away alarm systems. Press one if you’re a gullible, confused person whose bank account is just begging to be drained by a sociopathic call-center manager.

Utter scum, these people. The scammers, I mean - the people who hide behind spoofed phone numbers, and come up as CARD SERVICES on your caller ID. Hello, this is Rachel! I’m an actress hired to sound like I care about your interest rate. I’ve long since cashed my check and moved on with my life, unaware that my little speech would be used to interrupt and bother millions of people for months, if not years, on end. I know it was only a job, but here, Rachel: see this trapdoor? Goes right down to Hades. Let me just pull this lever, and . . . there you go. Sorry.

I was a telemarker for two days in college. Different jobs. First was selling Time-Life books. I sold two sets. Felt soiled. The next day I said I had car trouble, and the day after that I put a pillow over the phone until it stopped ringing. The other job was a legitimate survey with no sales, and that was better. There are people who don’t care, and then there are people who really want the world to know what they think, and they’re more than happy to answer your questions. I’m one of the latter - when someone calls with a survey about a product or service I’ve recently used, I’m happy to give them a few minutes, if only to brighten an otherwise miserable shift.

This assumes they care one way or the other, that is. You need a thick skin to work the phones. The ideal cold-caller doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

There’s an entire website devoted to ranting about telemarketers. The good ol’ security-system scam was run rather inexpertly by this fellow, who responded to the word “no” with torrents of obscenities. That’ll work with someone, I suppose, but man, the cold calling you have to do to find that one person.

 

URBAN STUDIES Wired has a nice site on Planned Cities Seen From Space. Makes me hunger all the more for the next Sim City. It looks wonderful. Anyway, somehow Wired missed this one:

 

It’s Riverdale, North Dakota. Not Archie’s town. In this context the name sounds like something from Middle Earth - and given NoDak’s position on the continent, I suppose you could make that claim. Wikipedia says:

Riverdale was the largest of the construction camps that sprang up in 1946 to house workers building the Garrison Dam just to the west. After the dam was completed in 1953, residents of the other camps (including Dakota City and Big Bend) who decided to stay on relocated to Riverdale. It was operated directly by the federal government from its founding until 1986 when it was finally turned over to the state of North Dakota and incorporation followed shortly afterwards.

It’s inhabited - over 200 souls live there. For reasons I can only ascribe to national secuity the Google Street View isn't embeddable, but you can go stroll around if you wish. It would be a nice place to ride out the zombies, if you could secure the perimeter.

Then again, why bother? I’m up to S03E05 of “Walking Dead,” and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that safe, sane attempts to reassert the basic decencies of civilization are either A) futile, or B) run by charismatic madmen. Then again, NoDak would be mostly zombie-free, since the low population would result in small herds, and the winter would kill them quickly. There’s a reason the show is set in Georgia, you know. If it was set in North Dakota Season 2 would have consisted of large groups of oil-patch workers disassembling frozen zombies with chainsaws for ten episodes.

 

WHAT, NO TUSK? 1979 Time Capsule opened. The contents were pretty much what you’d expect:

two ticket stubs for a Doobie Brothers concert, an empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and a Fleetwood Mac album.

Also Space Dust, which I’d forgotten. The name was changed to Cosmic Candy to avoid associations with Angel Dust. It had its own problems, thanks to Pop Rocks; parents - rather, dumb parents - were concerned that the candy would combine with cola and cause their child’s stomach to explode. Because General Foods wouldn’t have run that one past the lawyers, you know. This lead to my favorite wikipedia quote of the day so far: “General Foods was battling the ‘exploding kid’ rumors as early as 1979.”

Everything you may have forgotten about 70s and early 80s graphic styles can be summed up in that package.Things looked like that for a long, long time, until “new wave” and Miami-Vice styles shoved that cosmik airbrush stuff off the stage.

And none too soon.

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